Anonim

The great dinosaurs are not the only living giants now disappeared. The BBC has selected 10 of them: the most impressive and interesting. Here they are.

Aegirocassis benmoulae. Near, in appearance, at a cross between a whale and a lobster, this marine colossus belonging to the extinct family of anomalocaridids, filtered the ocean waters in search of plankton about 480 million years ago. Food was procured thanks to two special buccal appendages similar to filters, occupying an ecological niche similar to that of modern whales (but it was smaller: it reached about 2 meters in length). The study of its filtering organisms could reveal important data on the origin of the limbs of modern arthropods such as crustaceans, with which the Aegirocassis benmoulae would be related.

Jaekelopterus rhenaniae. Prehistoric waters reserved nightmare encounters for every self-respecting arachnophobic. In the European rivers and lakes of 390 million years ago you could meet this gigantic "sea scorpion", as it has been nicknamed, among the greatest representatives of the arthropod family ever appeared on the planet, with its 2.5 meters of length. Its appearance has been reconstructed starting from the discovery of a 46 cm long claw in an excavation in Germany. Some people hypothesize that the ancient marine arthropods grew so much thanks to an atmosphere richer in oxygen than today. For others, the dimensions were due to the absence of large predators.

Arthropleura. Lived between 340 and 280 million years ago, this prehistoric millipede could reach 2.6 meters in length. One of his complete fossils was never found, but remains of his 90 cm body were found in Germany. Other traces of his presence have been found in Canada, Scotland and the United States (in the photo, a reconstruction). Its formed body - it is thought - from about thirty segmented parts protected by side plates, was fed by a diet based, perhaps, on decomposing vegetables.

Megatherium. To this extinct genus of mammals also belonged the so-called American giant sloth, of which we see here the reconstruction of the skeleton. Smaller than the woolly mammoths, these animals lived between 5 million and 11 thousand years ago, however, reached the remarkable length of 6 m. The robust skeleton and large claws suggest a slow and vegetarian diet, based on unreachable barks and shrubs for lower animals. However, some paleontologists claim that these animals ate meat: the shape of their elbow suggests the possibility of catching small prey very quickly.

Meganeura. These prehistoric insects similar in appearance to extra-large dragonflies, with a wingspan of about 65 cm, darted through the air 300 million years ago. After the discovery of their first fossil, in 1880, in France, a debate opened on how they could fly supporting a body so large (and heavy). The answer lies perhaps in the high levels of oxygen - 35% of the gaseous composition of the atmosphere, against the current 21% - present in the air in the Carboniferous Period (359-299 million years ago). This wealth allowed insects to extract large amounts of energy from the air to sustain themselves in flight. Which could explain why they didn't survive when the oxygen level in the atmosphere started to drop.

Sarcosuchus imperator. Imagine the surprise of a group of paleontologists on a mission in the Nile Valley in 1997 when, in place of the fossil of a dinosaur, they found the remains of the jaw of a colossal prehistoric crocodile. The fossil bone was as big as a man, and the whole animal had to reach 12 m in length, for 8 tons of weight. The giant reptile, whose diet was to include some small dinosaurs, lived in tropical north Africa 110 million years ago. It is not a direct ancestor of the 23 modern known species of crocodile, but an exponent of the extinct family of Pholidosauridae.

The giant crocodile that walked like a man: look

Metoposaurus. Prehistoric fish also had to fear metoposaurus, a salamander as large as a small car whose fossils have been found in Poland, Germany, Portugal, North America, Africa and India. The colossal carnivorous amphibians were wiped out by a mass extinction that occurred 201 million years ago, which cleared the way for the great dinosaurs.

Phorusrhacids. He could not fly, on the other hand the "bird of terror", as this South American bird lived between 60 and 2 million years ago was known, saw its prey from far away, with its 3 meters high. Once he reached the loot he could land it with a paw, devouring the flesh of an animal the size of a medium-sized dog in an instant, thanks to its curved beak. The strong legs allowed him to reach 50 km / h speed. Fortunately the only modern ancestor of the bird is the series of South America (fam. Cariamidae) which reaches a maximum height of 80 cm.

New fossil gives life to the bird of terror

Megalodon. The skeleton of these great prehistoric sharks was made, like that of the modern "cousins", of cartilage, and was not fossilized properly. The only evidence of the giant sea predators (some vertebrae and teeth up to 17 cm long) suggest they could even reach 20 m in length, much more than the largest existing fish, the whale shark (12-14 m).

12 fearsome marine predators: look

Megalodon. Megalodon teeth compared to teeth of modern sharks. These oceanic creatures that lived between 15.9 and 2.6 million years ago could bite with a strength of 11-18 tons, four to six times greater than that of a T-rex. Their jaws contained about 200 teeth like the one you see.

Titanoboa cerrejonensis. Long 14.6 meters (twice more than today's longest snakes) and weighing more than a ton, this distant relative of anaconda and boa constrictor, who lived about 60 million years ago, strangled its prey to death. Some vertebrae and part of the skull have been found in Colombia. Given the size, and because snakes are cold-blooded animals, it is thought to survive only by virtue of the higher earth temperatures in the era in which they lived.

You might also like: The 7 most incredible fossils ever found The dinosaur gliding like a glider A fossil restores the bird of terror The land of the giants The butcher of the Carolina The great dinosaurs are not the only living giants now disappeared. The BBC has selected 10 of them: the most impressive and interesting. Here they are.
Aegirocassis benmoulae. Near, in appearance, at a cross between a whale and a lobster, this marine colossus belonging to the extinct family of anomalocaridids, filtered the ocean waters in search of plankton about 480 million years ago. Food was procured thanks to two special buccal appendages similar to filters, occupying an ecological niche similar to that of modern whales (but it was smaller: it reached about 2 meters in length). The study of its filtering organisms could reveal important data on the origin of the limbs of modern arthropods such as crustaceans, with which the Aegirocassis benmoulae would be related.